SBD/Issue 40/Law & Politics

Decision 2006: NCAA Officials Hope For Favorable Results

Rangel Could Become Chair Of U.S.
House Ways & Means Committee
The NCAA will be watching tonight’s election returns “with keen interest” to see if the Republicans retain control of the U.S. House, according to Lester Munson of SI.com. The House Ways & Means Committee “wants answers to a series of tough questions on huge television contracts, exorbitant coaches’ salaries, lucrative corporate sponsorships, and how they could possibly ‘further the educational purpose of Division I-A schools.’” The committee last month sent a letter to the NCAA challenging its tax-exempt status, and although NCAA officials “may be hoping for some relief from the inquiry” if U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) becomes Committee Chair, “they will be disappointed.” A source indicated Rangel supports Chair Bill Thomas’ (R-CA) letter, saying, “There may be some variation in nuance or emphasis, but these are legitimate questions. A tax exempt organization ought to be doing something to earn the tax break.” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said, “We would be foolish to try to defend some of the things we do. There are things that we do that are excessive, things like hotels and charter travel and the like.” But he suggested that the NCAA “can defend” coaches’ salaries. Delany: “Coaches salaries are market based. It is a real and a genuine market. ... When a coach is popular and successful and people want him to stay, there is a political element that enters into the market” (SI.com, 11/3).

BRAND AWARENESS: A N.Y. TIMES editorial noted NCAA President Myles Brand, in response to the committee, “reaffirmed his commitment to holding athletic programs to higher standards.” But an NCAA task force report on the future of major college sports released last week “touches on some of the same issues cited in the blistering letter from Congress.” The NCAA report “calls on college presidents and administrators to rein in the campus sports machines and dial back spending. But the facts suggest that many college administrations have been outflanked by athletic departments that are deeply invested in the bad old ways. If that doesn’t change, the NCAA can expect more scrutiny from Congress” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/6).

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